Friday, October 28, 2011

how to make a costume when you have little skill or how I made clio a nerd for halloween

I'm a child of the eighties (umm...very early eighties....ok....late seventies), which means I have a soft spot in my heart for Hypercolor t-shirts, z. cavaricci pants, Milli Vanilli, and arcade games.  I was inspired by one particular iconic 80s arcade game to make Clio a simple little Halloween outfit.  The problem was that I didn't particularly have the time or the skill to make it exactly the way I had imagined in my head.  Still, it was a very simple project that turned out pretty cute and it only cost me two dollars.  Seriously.

Felt squares were four for one dollar.

 I quickly traced out the shape I wanted onto the felt and cut it out.

Upon returning home from the fabric store I realized that I should have purchased blue felt instead of black but it wasn't anything a little blue acrylic paint couldn't fix.

This was the point in this project when I started running out of time to finish (stupid real job, sucking up my crafting time) so out came the glue gun.
Eek!  Setting sun!  Hurry up!  

So I ended up skipping the sewing machine all together.

 Pulled out a one dollar white onsie from a childrens' used clothing store and glued that sucker on.

Lastly I captured this adorable little wiggle worm and wrangled her into it.


And that is how I made Clio a nerd.  By dressing her up as Blinky from Pacman.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

apple cake

Autumn has come to Los Angeles.  The weather is cooling down and the days are getting shorter.  This time of the year always means lots of apples are showing up in the markets and lots of apples means lots of baking.  Yum.

Earlier this week I finally made this apple cake with toffee topping.  It is one of those recipes that you can whip up really quickly when you need something for dessert when company comes over, which is the reason why I actually got around to making it myself. Just about every ingredient that the recipe requires will already be sitting around your pantry.  The only thing I needed to get specifically to make this was heavy whipping cream (because only Paula Deen has whipping cream constantly at her disposal in the refrigerator).

It isn't my favorite baked apple dessert but I'd still make it again if I was in a pinch but with the addition of a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Adapted from the original recipe:

3 apples (I used fugi but next time I would probably use granny smith to make it more tart)
juice of 1/2 lemon

100 g / 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
200 g / 1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste because I like the flavor better than the extract)
3 eggs
200 g / 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
100 g / 1/2 cup sugar
120 ml / 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat your oven to 375 F, grease and flour a 9.5 inch springform pan.

Peel and core the apples, cut them into bite size chunks. Add the lemon juice and stir. Arrange the apples evenly on the bottom of your baking pan.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract then add the eggs one by one. Add the flour, the baking powder and the milk and mix until just combined. Pour the batter over the apples into the springform pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until done.

Remove your cake from the oven to cool and start to make the topping: put the butter and the sugar in a medium pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat. Sugar gets very hot while melting.  Don’t add all the cream at once, pour it in very slowly, start drop by drop, then in a steady stream, stir constantly. Continue to simmer for another minute over low heat. 

Remove cake from springform pan and drizzle the melted toffee over the top.  Serve warm or room temperature. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


Last weekend I went to the hair stylist and told her to go ahead and chop off my hair.  It is kind of the most do-like cut I've had in a very, very long time.  It actually requires more thought than which color brown -dark or tan- hair rubber band to use.

Today I went into work and my assistant says to me, "It looks like you didn't brush your hair.  It is a total mom hair cut."  Don't worry, I wasn't offended.  I just told her to shut her pie hole.  It's how we roll in my office.

Friday, October 21, 2011

apparently there is such a thing as too much butter

I have a weakness for chocolate chip cookies, which I think is probably pretty obvious. Aside from the sea salt ones I make, my favorite are Nestle Tollhouse.  Yes, the mass produced cookie dough you find next to the milk or yogurt at your grocery stores drives me wild.

Tonight I ran to the little market down the hill from our house to pick up chicken broth because I was making Artichoke soup and I ended up picking up a box of cookie dough mix too (only because they were dumb-dumbs and did not carry Nestle Tollhouse like any self-respecting market should).

Excited face:

In my eagerness to get cookies into my mouth I kind of overlooked something kind of important.  But in my defense the package looked like it called for an entire stick of butter instead of a single tablespoon.  Oopsie!

My anticipated cookies turned out like this.

Sad face:

I ate the middles out of them anyways.

Ashamed face:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

strawberry cream cake

One of the benefits of living in Southern California is the long growing season for summer fruits.  Even now, in mid-October it is possible to walk into a farmer's market and find beautiful strawberries.  This recipe for Strawberry Cream Cake is one I tried out last summer and really enjoyed.  I'm thinking that maybe as a farewell (I hope) to the seemingly endless summer here I may just have to make this one again.

What You'll Need:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

 How To:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper and sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in 3 parts and milk in 2, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, split cake in half horizontally; place bottom half, cut side up, on a serving plate.
  4. Make topping: In a large bowl, combine strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside. Place 2 tablespoons cold water in a small saucepan, and sprinkle with gelatin; let soften 5 minutes. Place saucepan over very low heat, and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat; let cool.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl until very soft peaks form. Continue to beat, and gradually add gelatin mixture; beat until soft peaks form.
  6. Arrange half of strawberries over bottom cake layer; top with half of whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Cover with top half of cake, cut side down. Top cake with remaining whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Refrigerate cake and remaining strawberries separately, at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day). Just before serving, spoon strawberries over cake.

Monday, October 17, 2011

on strike

this here baby is on a nursing strike.

i try to give her my boob and she's all "what the what?! my mouth on that? ahhh hell no."

she'd much rather get a bottle and take the rest of the day off, even if it means wailing like a banshee until she gets it.

it's a battle of the wills.  mine vs. hers.

she usually wins.

hopefully it is just a phase that she'll grow out of like she's already grown out of her newborn clothes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

fun weekend

Although there is no actual disco partying planned for this weekend I am hoping that in between all the chores we need to get done we can squeeze in some fun too.

Hope you all can squeeze in a little fun this weekend too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

come on autumn

Holy Cow.  Is it really the middle of October already?  It's still a million degrees here at the moment.  No, really, I mean like a million degrees and the only thing that helps is airconditioning and a frozen yogurt from Ikea.

I want autumn to get here already.  I'm ready for thick nubly sweaters, warm boots and apple cider.

Also, I want to live here.  Do places like this really exist?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

shadow puppets

If you are looking to coax a smile out of our daughter the fastest way to do so is by changing her diapers.  The reason?  When you place her on the changing table (or in our case, a changing pad on top of a dresser) she is in prime position to watch the shadows that are cast on the wall by whatever lucky soul happens to be swapping out her dirty dipe for a clean one.  Shadows, as it turns out, are freaking high-larious.  We like to call the shadowy figures that seem to illicit the most smiles from her, Shadow Mamma and Shadow Daddy.

Here is our Clio, clearly enjoying Shadow Daddy.

Because she seems to love Shadow Mamma and Daddy so much I decided that I would make her more shadow friends to play with.  Obviously, she has no idea what the shadows puppets are but I figured that as she gets older they will come in handy for story time.

The first thing I did was to pick a couple of themes to make the puppets from.  You could always just go with the old standard fairy tales.  In fact I found this free downloadable version of puppets from Billy Goats Gruff, which is especially handy if your artistic skills leave much to be desired.  I chose to do Space Invaders, the Pacific Northwest (my homage to Leif's home), and a simple Kitty and Fish.

Materials Needed:

Heavy Card Stock (I got ten pieces, way more than I needed, at Michael's for $4)
Glue (or glue gun)
Exacto Knife
Scratch Paper (only if you are drawing your own puppets)

First thing I did was to sketch the puppets I wanted to make on blank white paper so I could cut them out and trace them on to the card stock.

My version of Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet, which is one of my all time favorite movies thanks to my dad.  Once on a double date Leif and I went on before we started "dating" I noticed that he had a Robby the Robot fob on his key chain.  He was impressed that I knew who Robby was.  Nerd love.  Isn't it precious?

Using the scissors and the exacto knife I cut out the puppets while watching episodes of bad t.v. and waiting for Clio to wake up from naps.  This part took the longest amount of time and a lot of bad television.

The rest of it was easy-peasy.  Glue those sticks on the back and that's it!

Finally, get your light set up and have a puppet show!

These last two are my favorite and are part of the Pacific Northwest set, which also includes pine trees and a log cabin.  If I could have somehow done a flannel shirt, scruffy facial hair, tattoos, and dark-rimmed glasses I would have.

Recognize this last one?  Yeah, I didn't think so.  It's Frame 352.

There you have it folks.  Shadow puppets for a baby who won't really appreciate them for quite awhile.  Well, I made enough to give to my nieces and nephew, and the Pacific Northwest set will probably go to a certain eight month-old Sam in Amsterdam whose parents are Portlanders at heart.